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Human Ecology as a Field of Study in UP Los Baños

Since 1968, there has been a rise in environmental awareness across the globe, wherein the University has also intended to make significant contributions. There have been numerous programs and curricular offerings at the University that touch on various aspects of human-environmental problems. However, there have been no programs that address the whole range of environmental issues that have an impact on humans’ development into a full being. Additionally, there aren’t any courses and programs that are so integrated as to offer a thorough examination of how humans influence their environment.

Hence, in response to the need for an ecologically-oriented unit that focuses on humans and their interrelationships with the environment, the University has identified Human Ecology as a new orientation to help provide a meaningful contribution to national development. There is a recognition that:

Human development and the attainment of a better life are multi-faceted and multi-directional; that human development is not only a concern of the family but also the concern of larger social systems;

Human development is affected by and closely interrelated with the total environment, and there are pressing environmental problems that need immediate attention especially as these problems revolve around man’s food, nutritional status, health, living space, growth, and movement of population, fuel and energy, conservation and enhancement of natural resources, and availability of essential services and utilities.

Institutionalization of Human Ecology 

On November 28, 1974, the Institute of Human Ecology was established out of the Department of Home Technology of the College of Agriculture. From a rural home economics base, the new academic unit’s concern was expanded to cover human ecology. The Institute was organized into five operational areas:

  • Human Development and Population Studies
  • Human Nutrition and Food
  • Resource Technology and Management
  • Environment Planning and Analysis
  • Development Education and Community Services
For students enrolled in the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology program, these areas formed the focus of their specialization.

Development of the College of Human Ecology 

In February 1983, the Institute of Human Ecology was elevated into the College of Human Ecology with a more specific mandate:
…the College shall contribute to the pursuit of the development of man in self-reliant and ecologically stable environments/communities, utilizing trans-disciplinary integrative and holistic approaches. It focuses on the Philippine and Asian socio-cultural and biophysical settings.

From the existing five operational areas of the Institute, the College of Human Ecology established four departments:

  • Department of Human and Family Development Studies
  • Department of Human Nutrition and Food
  • Department of Community and Environmental Resource Planning
  • Department of Social Development Services
The BS in Human Ecology program was continued with four alternative major fields of specialization:

  • Community Nutrition*
  • Family Development
  • Human Settlements Planning
  • Social Technology

* In 1988, the BS in Nutrition was instituted in place of the BSHE Major in Community Nutrition. The other major fields under the BSHE program continue to be offered to date.

Department of Social Development Services

The Department of Social Development Services (DSDS) focuses on the development and delivery of the requirements of basic needs of people in the community and their environment through an integrative social, economic, technological, and institutional approach. DSDS offers the B.S. Human Ecology major in Social Technology. Under this curricular program, the Department aims to produce professionals who will take active roles in developing strong and capable public and private social institutions and organizations which will contribute to the goal of ensuring secured and sustainable human ecosystems. The program focuses on producing graduates who understand social development with a human ecological perspective, who have a good grasp of community dynamics, who can critically assess community services and programs, and who can contribute effectively to the transformation of community organizations and institutions so that these can effectively serve the needs of the people. These graduates have the capability for:

  • Community environmental analysis
  • Community organizing
  • Community development planning
  • Training design and capacity building